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Field Notes: a Northwest nature blog

One of the reasons many of us live in the Pacific Northwest is the natural wonders that amaze us all. On this blog Seattle Times writers and photographers will share their explorations of the natural world from snowcaps to whitecaps. Write us at fieldnotes@seattletimes.com with your own sightings, questions and wonders to share.

January 12, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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A walk in the (state) park, for free

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has scheduled ten free days at the parks for 2012, and the first opportunities to enjoy any state park without a Discover Pass is coming right up, on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday three-day weekend Jan. 14-16,

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The freshness of a winter walk on the beach is hard to beat. The wind blows out the cabin fever at Cape Disappointment State Park. Douglas MacDonald, photo

The Discover Pass will not be required of visitors enjoying any of the state's more than 100 parks. Many of the state parks free days are scheduled to coincide with 2012 free days offered by the National Park Service, to enhance the possibilities of a great itinerary.

The "free days" are in keeping with legislation that created the Discover Pass, a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on state-managed recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources.

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The wild coast of Washington is just a short drive from Seattle. Leave in the morning and be there for a picnic lunch at special places like this cove at Cape Disappointment State Park. Douglas MacDonald, photo

The Discover Pass legislation provided that State Parks could designate up to 12 "free days" when the pass would not be required to visit state parks. The free days only apply at state parks. A Discover Pass will still be required to access DFW and DNR lands.


Following are the 2012 State Parks "free days:"

  • — Jan 14 through 16 - Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend
  • — March 18 and 19 - In honor of Washington State Parks' 99th birthday on March 19
  • — June 9 - National Get Outdoors Day
  • — Sept. 29 - National Public Lands Day
  • — Nov. 10 through 12 - Veterans Day weekend

For more information about state parks, a listing of park locations and features, and more, go online.

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Lighthouse fans have plenty to choose from at Washington State Parks, such as this beauty at Cape Disappointment State Park. Douglas MacDonald, photo


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The State Parks just laid off 83 rangers the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve... MORE
One can already WALK in State parks without a pass, one needs the pass to DRIVE in... MORE

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